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Last modified: 24 Nov 2016
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Taking action against substance abuse

21 November 2016
Kouga Social Services Portfolio Councillor Danny Benson (front row third right) and the municipality’s Health and Social Services Manager Nomvula Machelesi presided over the election of the new Kouga Local Drug Action Committee on Thursday. The members are: (front row from left) Marshall Geswint (faith based sector), Gene Thube (Secretary), Carvin Jaars (Chairperson), Estelle Gelderblom from Social Development, (back row from left) Kouga’s Special Programmes Officer Vuyani Zana,  SAPS’ Alie Felix and Joseph Klaasen, Nita Mentz from the National Prosecuting Authority,  SAPS’ Elmarie Jantjies, Erhard Wagener and Brian Perils.

Kouga Social Services Portfolio Councillor Danny Benson (front row third right) and the municipality’s Health and Social Services Manager Nomvula Machelesi presided over the election of the new Kouga Local Drug Action Committee on Thursday. The members are: (front row from left) Marshall Geswint (faith based sector), Gene Thube (Secretary), Carvin Jaars (Chairperson), Estelle Gelderblom from Social Development, (back row from left) Kouga’s Special Programmes Officer Vuyani Zana, SAPS’ Alie Felix and Joseph Klaasen, Nita Mentz from the National Prosecuting Authority, SAPS’ Elmarie Jantjies, Erhard Wagener and Brian Perils.

Substance abuse is on the rise, central to many social ills and has the potential to destroy the nation if nothing is done to combat the scourge.

These were the sentiments of stakeholders at the re-establishment of the Kouga Local Drug Action Committee (LDAC) at the municipality’s Council Chambers in Humansdorp on 17 November.

The committee brings together stakeholders from sectors involved in fighting substance abuse such as the municipality, police, the Departments of Correctional Services, Health, Justice, Education and Social Development, together with representatives of relevant community structures.

It is formed in accordance with the Prevention of and Treatment for Substance Abuse Act, 2008 (Act No. 70 of 2008), which also states that the municipality is responsible for the establishment of the committee.

Social Services Portfolio Councillor Danny Benson, representing Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen at the meeting, said it was important that the committee be taken seriously for it to have an impact.

“Drugs have contributed significantly to us living in broken societies. We cannot afford to rest while our nation, and in particular the youth, is being consumed,” he said.

Benson warned that the Mayor would keep her eye on the committee to ensure that it lived up to expectations and did not fall into the same failure traps as the previous structures had.

“For instance, there will be consequences for non-attendance of meetings. Lack of commitment will be elevated to the highest level, including your ministers,” he warned the sector department heads in attendance.

Well-known Humansdorp anti-drug activist Carvin Jaars, who presided over the outgoing interim committee, was elected Chairperson while Kouga Municipality’s HIV/Aids Coordinator Gene Thube got the nod as the committee’s Secretary.

Each of the relevant sector departments seconded a representative to the committee, with the police having a rep for each of their six police stations in Kouga.

After his election, Jaars said a lot of work awaited the new LDAC and members would have to familiarise themselves quickly with the task at hand.

“At the rate things are going, including what the stats are indicating, we are about to reach crisis proportions. Though the task may seem monumental, there is a framework from which to start and there is a chance we may succeed,” he said.

The National Drug Master Plan serves as the main guiding document for the committee. A local plan will be developed using the national framework.

According to the Act, the committee may co-opt additional members with special skills and expertise, as and when required.